Art After Hours

Frida & Diego Art-1

We had a great night at the Art Gallery of NSW last Wednesday,  taking in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition which is running until October 9th.

As part of the Art Galleries vision to make art more accessible, they have established an Art After Hours program, in this case free drop in workshops in the gallery foyer teaching people the art of making Mexican paper flowers.  With more than 20 tables set up,  the Art Galley approached us for help and we supplied the tablecloth to help give provide an authentic Mexican ambience to the event.   As the night went on, the garden of paper flowers grew, supplying the proper attire for the ladies to adorn their hair Frida Style.  With the Mariachi Band playing and a glass of wine in hand, it was the perfect way to celebrate the birthday of this icon of contemporary Art.

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The paper flower workshop was run by the very talented Melissa Hernandez

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The Art Gallery kindly put these on all the tables 🙂

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Before and After

5 Years in Annandale

5 years ago we took the leap of faith and decided to open a bricks and mortor store in Annandale.  Our business had grown too large to operate from home and our small warehouse was bursting at the seams, so after many months of seaching, we finally found our new home at 2-4 Nelson St.

outside - new

 

As we had grown primarily out of a wholesale business – BenElke,  most of the initial product was only things that we manufactured or imported.  As a result, the place was pretty empty when we first started….

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Now,  after 5 years,  we have grown quite a bit…..we are quite proud !

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And we have added a cafe 🙂

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Many thanks to everyone for supporting us over the last 5 years.

 

Elephant and Butterflies Wardrobe

A Vanessa Campbell creation

Normally,  we write our blogs about our set of products or activitiies that we are involved in.  This time however,  we are so inspired by one of our customers that we felt the need to highlight her very clever set of skills.

Vanessa Campbell recently came into our shop and showed us some photos’ of an Oilcloth Cupboard that she had “re-claimed” and fixed up.  We loved it so much, we asked if we could share the pictures on our facebook page

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At the same time,  Vanessa also showed us some other photo’s of another project that she had completed that didn’t use Oilcloth,  but was equally stunning.  She has kindly provided a “how to” for all those who would like to try thier hand at something similar.  

Elephant and Butterflies Wardrobe.

1. As you will see in the photo, the wardrobe that I pulled off the street was badly scratched but the joinery was solid and of a very good quality.  No use putting lipstick on a pig.

1 off the street

2. I used a handheld sander and a medium grade paper to protect the veneer as much as I could.

2 Sanding

3. I picked Dulux vivid white for the colour,  classic colour with a nice clean finish.  I used Inspirations paint on Burwood Rd in Burwood Heights.  http://www.inspirationspaint.com. These guys really understand projects.

3 paint materials

4. The Zinsser undercoat was very forgiving of the scratched veneer and gave great coverage and I would use it again.  Added bonus is that while it washes up in turps – you can use it with both enamel  and water based paints.

5. I used Custom Wall Designs in UK for my vinyl sticker – only because I loved the artwork and they could do a custom size for me to fit my project.  http://www.customwalldesigns.co.uk/

5 add sticker

6.  When I got to the undercoat I had sweaty palms as I still had no idea if the sticker idea would work – did I really think I knew what I was doing ??

6 first coat

7. One undercoat,  tow coats of vivid white,  carefully peeled back the sticker,  the wood and veneer had a quick protective coat of clear polyurethane,  and put the original handles back on.  I also added an extra butterfly to cover a big veneer scratch in the bottom section.

The Finished Project.

7 finished project

The team at Me Too Please loved this project and have promised to pass on any requests directly to Vanessa who can be reached through our office.

Matthew – A Happy Customer

A letter to Me Too Please

Dear Me Too Please,

About 20 years ago I bought this desk chair

M chail-old1  M chail-old2

It’s nothing special to look at but it has one outstanding quality – I can sit on this chair and work for hour after hour, day after day, week after week…you get the idea. For 20 years this chair has provided support and comfort that has allowed me to work without a single moment of back ache or discomfort. It is, as far as I’m concerned, irreplaceable.

You can imagine my growing panic as I’ve watched the tear in the seat of the chair grow over the past few months.

So, armed with nothing more than a screwdriver, a staple-gun and 1x metre of Me Too Please MoSkin I’ve added new life to my faithful old chair.

M chail-new1 M chail-new2

Thanks,

Matthew

A Touch of Frida Kahlo

Our shop window gets some expert attention….

At our Me Too Please bricks and mortar store in Sydney, we were lucky enough to be approached by super-talented designer, Amanda Garcia-Panetta.

In her fourth year studying Interior Design and Decoration at The Design Centre Enmore (Sydney Institute’s creative hub), Amanda presented us with a striking Frida Kahlo-inspired window design concept for the shop. Here’s Amanda’s visual proposal… talk about PERFECT

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“Having been researching the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, when I was handed an assignment for a visual merchandising concept, my immediate thought was to contact Me Too Please” explains Amanda

“The concept behind the window is a recreation of the amazing photographic portraits that exist of Kahlo dressed in her beautifully colourful, patterned outfits and signature floral headpieces.

“My aim was to use the equally colourful and patterned oilcloth from Me Too Please, along with some of their hand painted Mexican treasures”.

Here’s Amanda at work, putting her window together

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And here’s the end result- you can see why we are so thrilled!

FINAL WINDOW w Amanda

Not only does our window look wonderful, but it was also a great experience working with Amanda, who late last year established her bespoke Design and Decoration practice, August Garcia.

ABOUT AUGUST GACRIA

“The concept behind August Garcia is the home, and the notion that a home is a truly special place which should be unique to those who live there. Through the practice my goal is to assist clients who want functioning, unique and beautiful spaces in their lives – whether that’s in the home or elsewhere.

“Really, I just thrive on creating,  and dealing with people, so whether it’s designing entire spaces, guiding colour selections (or installing a shopfront window) – I find it all super exciting and rewarding, to be able to grow an idea into something cohesive and special”

Thank you so much for making contact with us Amanda, we look forward to working with you again!

Lisa and Ben

Greetings from El Salvadore

Local Inspiration

Love a great greeting card? So do we. At Me Too Please we have a beautiful selection of eye-catching, quirky cards. There’s something particularly special about these ones though; they’re our fair trade handcrafted cards from El Salvador, featuring lovely pressed wildflowers. Meet Rosa and Esperanza- aren’t they exquisite?

Rosa Esperenza

Now check out just a few of the wonderful pieces crafted by a local Year 2 class, who were inspired by the cards to make their own beautiful ‘flower ladies’…

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This project was all thanks to their teacher the incredible Sally, who picked up a few of the cards on a Me Too Please coffee stop, and then went on to share them, as well as their background story with her class.

“These greeting cards of striking beauty represent a woman’s hope for the future” explains a representative of Hope for Women, the Fair Trade organisation who ensure that these cards and their message are shared around the world.

Card in Process

So how did the flower ladies come to be ?

In 2001,  a devastating earthquake and subsequent mudslides left families in the highlands of El Salvador homeless and without employment.  Many were farmers and with their livelihoods left in tatters they began traveling long hours and away from their children to low-paying factory jobs in the capital,  San Salvador.

It was from this extremely challenging set of circumstances that Arte Comasagua was born.  Created by a group of enterprising women,  this artisan organisation provides local,  safe fairly paid employment to an ever growing band of mothers who pick the flowers,  dry and press them,  then handcraft these spectacular cards.

Is this the best Mexican dish EVER?

Ben says yes…..

Achiote chicken

We’ve all got a mental list of our ‘most-memorable dishes’, right? Well it was during a sourcing trip to Mexico a few years ago that I tasted my number 1.

Lisa and I were about to order dinner at the superb W-Hotel in Mexico City (see the picture below,  where every the bathroom has a hammock :-), when the Chicken Achiote caught my eye (probably because I’d never heard of it before).

W Mexico

What arrived at the table was THE most succulent, flavoursome grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was like the very best flavours of Mexico had come together with an element of something unexpected – and quite frankly, I’ve never got over it. So much so, that for a short time I cyber-stalked the chef Eduardo Esuna for his recipe …to no avail !

A Yucatán speciality, the star ingredient of the dish is the achiote paste, also known as ‘Recado rojo’. Achiote itself is Spanish term for the spice otherwise known as annatto. Annatto are the seeds of the achiote tree, found throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia. Known as ‘the poor-man’s Saffron’ (harsh, don’t you think?), annatto powder gives a soft red colouring to food as it marinates, as well impregnates a superb smoky, tangy flavour.

AnnattoR Rojo

 

 

 

 

 

Anyhow, here’s a Chicken Achiote recipe we found and adapted a little. Don’t be scared off by the annatto. We get ours from Gewurzhaus,  although you can also try Herbie’s Spices in Balmain,  . It’s then ground down to a powder.

CHICKEN ACHIOTE

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds (if using powder, 1/3 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (if using powder, 1/3 teaspoon)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (can replace some with tequila or vinegar if desired) OR juice of 2-3 fresh limes (for extra tangy)
  • 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • Fresh coriander (chopped)
  • 1 chicken (whole and flattened, or in pieces)

Instructions

Grind the first 6 ingredients to a powder in a spice mill or powerful blender. Crush the garlic (and chilli if desired) with the salt in a mortar, then gradually add spice powder mix. Moisten with the orange or lime juice and oil to a smooth paste, adding more if a runnier consistency is desired, less for a ‘rub’

Thoroughly cover all sides of the chicken (or pieces). Cover in a dish, and refrigerate from 4 hours to overnight (ideally).

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C)

Place in a covered baking dish and bake for about 45-60 minutes, taking the lid off for the last 15 minutes. Chicken should be tender and fall off the bone when tested with a fork.

For the barbeque, place on the grill on medium heat, close the lid, and turn regularly for 45 minutes.

Serve with rice, wedges of fresh lime, coriander leaves and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this awesome dish as much as I do- and if you have a favourite Mexican recipe that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, Hasta pronto amigos…

Ben.

PS- If you happen to be in Mexico City and meet a chef by the name of Eduardo Esuna, please do tell him that Ben from Sydney sends his regards!

Hand Loomed Mexican Cottons

Mexican hero

Most people know Me Too Please as the home of Mexican Oilcloth in Australia, so we’re thrilled to announce a new addition to our fabric catalogue. We’re now exclusively stocking magnificent hand-loomed Mexican cotton, ideal for any form of upholstery.

Gorgeous, vibrant colours brought to life in textured, soft and durable 100% cotton, these traditionally produced materials have all been hand loomed by artisans in the Michoacán region of Western Mexico.

Apple Martini-1 Mango Daquiri-1 Blue Agave-1

The colours and patterns are magnetic, as are the design names – there are definitely no boring monikers here. From stripy Apple Martini to heavenly Blue Agave and the chequered Rum Punch.

“I’ll have the Mango Daiquiri please…on a wing-back chair”

It’s enough to make you feel a little dizzy, in the nicest possible way! 🙂

Hand Loom

Mexico has long been renowned for superb traditional textiles, with a pedigree dating back more than 1000 years. Due to the great variety of mineral, vegetable and animal dyes long available, Mexican materials have always been colourful and often incorporated beautiful patterns and embroidery.

Working originally on backstrap looms, the foot loom (treadle) was introduced by Spaniards in the 1500’s and embraced by weavers. This is the method still used today to produce the authentic Mexican cotton that we now stock at Me Too Please.

Coming in an amazing selection of block colours, stripes and checks, our Mexican hand-loomed cotton fabric is vibrant, durable, soulful, and makes a wonderful addition to any living space.

It’s available on line here and in-store at a fantastic $45 per metre.

 

Is this my best side ?

Do I look fat in this ?

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Just like the rest of the world, we LOVE having our pictures taken. Ahem. So we were quite amazed that Geoff of Hooper Lane Studios managed to make a photographic session at the Me Too Please store so much fun today!

Travis, our star Barista took out the most-photogenic prize, after rocking up to work in a shirt which just happened to match the Cafés stunning blue Mexican oilcloth PERFECTLY.

Travis seated

And Tequila, our gorgeous Hungarian Vizsla, came in a close second after holding an impossibly perfect puppy pose long enough to capture it.

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On top of the people and dog shots, Geoff was also busy getting images of all of our fabulous new products that we’ll be including online soon. We know you’ll love them all as much as we do.

Speaking of photos, if you have any of your favourite Me Too Please goodies in action that you’d like to share, we’d be thrilled to see them. Feel free to send them through via twitter or facebook…

CHEESE!

Ben, Lisa, and the team.

Yerba Mate

MTP Mate Gourd

If you’ve lived or travelled in South America, you’ll already have warm memories of maté, the Argentinian tea famous for its refreshing, relaxing properties, as well as the ritual that surrounds it’s drinking.

Made from the dried leaves of the yerba maté plant, maté is a caffeinated herbal tea considered by the indigenous South Americans to have medicinal properties. High in antioxidants and Vitamins C, B1 and B2, phosphorus, iron and calcium, it’s also drunk widely in Brazil and Uruguay.

“There’s a lot of tradition that goes with drinking maté” says Troy. “For instance you HAVE to serve it in a mate gourd”. A mate gourd is a small round cup made traditionally from the shell of a dried pomegranate and lined with stainless steel. Gourds may also be ceramic, wood or leather.

To make the tea, the dried maté leaves are placed in the gourd with a small amount of cool water before hot water – never boiling- is added. Then the liquid is drunk through a steel straw called a bombilla, which also acts as a sieve for the tea leaves.

“To the Argentines, it’s sacrilege to stir the maté with the bombilla, it’s only there to drink through” explains Troy. “Also, traditionally the one gourd will be passed around and shared amongst a small group in a certain order”.

To learn the intricacies of maté preparation, check out Yerba maté Australia’s guide: http://www.yerbamateaustralia.com.au/eng/detalle.php?a=argentina-way&;t=2&d=3

Then make sure you try some maté for yourself. Our Me Too Please Café on Nelson St is open Monday to Sunday, so come in and say ‘hola!’

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